A solar-powered car developed by a team of Dutch university students has completed a 620-mile test drive across Morocco and the Sahara Desert, showing the world that the groundbreaking electric vehicle is not just a concept but a viable reality.
Stella Terra is a two-seat car that is the latest offering from Solar Team Eindhoven, a group of 16 students at the Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology. The group announced Stella Terra as the world’s first solar-powered off-roading vehicle earlier this year, saying they hoped to have a prototype ready by September — and, unlike so many for-profit car companies, delivered on that deadline.
“Stella Terra must withstand the harsh conditions of off-roading while remaining efficient and light enough to be powered by the sun,” Solar Team Eindhoven’s team manager Wisse Bos told the Guardian. “That is why we had to design almost everything for Stella Terra ourselves, from the suspension to the inverters for the solar panels. We are pushing the boundaries of technology.”
The EV has a top speed of 90 miles per hour, weighs 1.2 tons, and boasts an incredible range of 440 miles on a sunny day.
The team is not trying to sell Stella Terra but hopes that it can serve as a model for existing car companies to create sustainable, solar-powered vehicles and bring them to market. As one Eindhoven University professor pointed out, electric vehicles emit three times less planet-overheating gases than gas-powered ones.
“We hope this can be an inspiration to car manufacturers such as Land Rover and BMW to make it a more sustainable industry. The car was actually very comfortable in the off-road conditions as it is very light and does not get stuck,” Bob van Ginkel, the project’s technical manager, said.
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